According to Alzheimer Disease International statistics, the prevalence of people stricken with dementia in Malaysia is expected to rise from 123, 000 in 2015 to 261, 000 and 509, 000 in the year 200 and 2050 respectively. While research on Alzheimer’s disease is still on-going, there is still no known cure for Alzheimer’s with current medicine only able to slow it down.
Experts agree that keeping our brain stimulated and healthy is our best preventive measure to minimise chances of developing the dementia and Alzheimer’s. One of the major factors in doing so is maintaining a healthy diet as our food plays huge part in our lives. Especially for those in nursing homes or in some form of recovering care, eating the right food Is essential to ensure you are giving your body what it needs and promoting a healthy brain.
This means giving yourself the correct brain food to keep it functioning at its best. Here are some recommended foods that by incorporating them into your diet, can promote good brain health:
If you have eaten guacamole in toasted wraps, you will understand how incredibly tasty this unassuming fruit is. Avocados are full of “good” types of fats that work to keep blood sugar in check due to high potassium content (even higher than bananas). Avocados also provide a supply of vitamin B, vitamin C, plenty of protein and it also contains the lowest amount of sugar of any fruit. The benefit of this fruit is that it can minimise the risk of stroke and lead to better cognitive performance due to their high amount of Vitamin K and folate. Avocadoes are a healthy option as this cocktail of vitamins is important for overall brain function.
Compared to red meat and poultry, the acids and fats contained in fish are more beneficial. Salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel in particular contain high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. Experts often associate having high levels of these fatty acids help manage stress, protect against age-related memory loss and thinking problems in older people, and lead to the production of serotonin –a natural mood elevator.
Fun fact: soy beans and pumpkin also contain these beneficial fatty acids.
Practically synonymous with curry, this ancient spice has often been used for thousands of years in the Middle East and India for its powerful health benefits. Curcumin, which is the main active ingredient in turmeric, has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a predominantly strong antioxidant. According to Authority Nutrition, high content of curcumin is known to boost Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which a lack of this growth hormone is linked to the occurrence of many common brain disorders – including dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Nuts are a great source of nutrients and are generally excellent to eat on a low-carb diet. Different types of nuts contain protein and promote good cardiovascular health. Walnuts and almonds in particular can be beneficial and have high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Some research have connected nut consumption to having a lower risk of dementia. The vitamin E contained in nuts is thought to slow down the worsening of memory loss and functional decline.
Broccoli contains high amount of vitamin K, which is known to help strengthen brain power. According to World Health.net, a compound that can be found in high concentration in broccoli called glucosinolates stops the breakdown of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. This is essential for a strong nervous system to function properly as low levels of acetylcholine have been found in people living with Alzheimer’s. Broccoli also contains sulforaphane which has been linked to helping to keep the brain sharp in later life.
While store-bought white bread and other items can be loaded with sugars and devoid of nutrients, whole grain breads and other items have plenty of fibre and other essentials. When integrated into a rich and well-rounded diet, whole grains are helpful for promoting good cognitive health. Likewise whole grain breads and pastas are a way to make healthy dishes a little more dynamic and exciting.
According to Medical News Today, studies have shown drinking juice from beetroot can improve oxygenation to the brain which slows the progression of dementia in older adults. As blood flow to certain areas of the brain decrease with age, leading to a decline in cognition and possible dementia, consuming beetroot juice as part of a high nitrate diet can improve the blood flow and oxygenation to these areas that are lacking. Between reducing inflammation, ridding harmful toxins from your blood and containing antioxidants, beetroots make one of the most nutritious foods available.
Blueberries & Strawberries
Due to the Nurses’ Health Study, blueberries and strawberries has achieved ‘superfood’ status as results from the research has linked regular consumption of these delicious little fruits to improved memory and slow down cognitive decline. As inflammation play a major role play a major role in contributing to cognitive impairment, these fruits contain anthocyanins, a protective compound that can reduce inflammation and boost the body’s defence against viruses, making them a perfect natural way to help ward of dementia and other brain disorders. Try snacking on blueberries during the day or otherwise add them to a salad or other side for larger meals.
There are other factors involved in maintaining your brain health and assist in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s, such as exercise and social interaction. But as food plays a major role in our lives, it is important to consider our food offerings more carefully as we live longer lives. Bon Appétit.